Monsoon vibes with birdies

Monsoon vibes

Being lived half my age in cities where people crib about rains due to their inconvenience in transportation,etc. I never felt a dime of difficulty in my life due to rainfall. In cities like Kolkata and Mumbai, where monsoon comes as an alert to buy and keep groceries packed at home and be ready to reach office/college late or even skip sometimes. Well, the reason being of course non-maintenance of roads and overflowing of rainwater from every corner possible. But I grew up in a city where I hardly faced any such issues, though the roads are hardly maintained there too :P. I remember pulling my ‘way back from school friend’ to jump on the rainwater stacks again and again getting ourselves wet and dirty while we also prepare ourselves for a mumma’s scolding. 😀 Though my mom is a sweetheart in these cases. She will take the badla (revenge) in some other mean situations :P. Childhood and its memories has no comparison at all.

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Ashy prinia enjoying rain droplets.

Another drenchful memory from my childhood was when I went to a friend’s house on my favorite ladybird cycle. There were no cell phones back then. It was almost time for me to return home and it was raining heavily. Mother at home, sat at the main door worried. I on the other hand, was pulling my cycle hard to reach covering the upward slanting road when there were hardly anything visible. Anyhow I reached home as quickly as possible, completely drenched (like I was inside a pool for many hours). Seeing mom was the best thing that day as she smiled and took me in with all the pampering. Moms are the best you see.

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Greater coucal enjoying a shower.

Now-a-days I don’t  crib about rainfalls at all when I am living in the state with 2nd largest rainfall in the county, not that I have done that before. I always liked rains. Specially after the sweaty summer, when monsoon arrives with the wet sand smell and flower buds. My favorite part had to be the special hot-khichdi that mummy dear used to make for lunch on a special rainy day .And for now,  I love it, I love everything that rains bring with it. The cold breeze, the water droplets on the wires and leaves, the wet sand smell, the washed roads, the farms, happiness on farmer’s faces, the bird calls which are more audible in monsoon as its the breeding season for many Indian birds, the cute insects, snakes, toads,colorful flowers, too many butterflies and above all the greenery everywhere. I have certainly stopped saying that winter is my favorite season anymore. Though spring can be comparable with rains. But monsoon is love.

 

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Rose ringed parakeet here looks worried though! 😀

Birds also love rains as much I do I guess, otherwise why would they call me so much to get to the balcony and watch them every now and then 😛 . Watching birds perched on the top of a branch calling for its mate just before the shower hits, is one of its kind of pleasure that only a bird lover can understand. And afterwards when they decide to get with the flow and get wet in the rain. Aah.. I can watch them all day.

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Cute little tailorbird taking a leaf shelter.:)

They are in their own world without any knowledge of being watched by us, is a power they hold that makes them fearless. Plus obviously they don’t have to worry about changing clothes or going to a doctor to feel better. And that is what I call nature. Earth belongs to them. Nature is their home and we are just the watchers in this world.

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Black hooded oriole after a fresh shower.

Also minding our own business is the best thing we humans can learn from them. Isn’t it? Preying, eating, sleeping, mating and living a life making it a worth. Why can’t we do the same. Well we all know the answer for that. We have brains… just too much of it..For giving it a rest,let’s just enjoy the showers as they do.

 

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Oriental magpie robin calling for its mate to join him 🙂

In some of the occasions while observing them, I managed to click them enjoying rains as this would be the best thing I can do. Well obviously I just cant mind my own business but interfere into theirs.. Actually it has become a part of my daily life. The most beautiful part.

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A group of most loved birds.

Usually when it rains, I can’t get out to photograph much and it stretches for months in this state. Hence the best I could do is to watch the visitors and taking some habitat shot (okay from a long distance but I wouldn’t mind that too till they are birds and they are visible.:)) All the photographs you see here today are taken from my bedroom balcony.

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cute little white rumped munias. Count the number for me 😀

Now its almost time for bidding the monsoon until next year. Oh ya, by now you all must be knowing that I missed mom a lot this season, as always though.:) 😦

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My absolute favorite feeling. And this is the branch that gets clicked the most 😀

Other birds that are common in rains here are Asian koel, scaly breasted munia, red whiskered bulbul, red vented bulbul, white cheecked barbet, greater flameback woodpecker,etc.

That is it for today’s post guys. And my apologies for not absent all this while.

Until next time, keep spreading love and laughter 🙂

Much love,

Riya.

 

 

Cat series continues….

Hey people, this is Riya and welcome back to my space. I had been busy the whole last week showing around my parents who are here in a trip for 10days. As our Goa darshan is almost over for now, I am here with my new post. You all must have seen one of my earlier post on Wild catyso this is in continuation to it. It will be less on the features of cat but mainly focused on how I photographed him (Musshy).

Musshy is a cat that lives in the building where we stay. He is no one’s pet yet everyone loves feeding him and playing with him. I named him musshy out of nothing. I just love calling him that. He will respond to me someday I hope 😀

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Cute.   EXIF: f/6.3  ss:1/50  iso:100 @135mm

That’s him! Isn’t he cute? Of course he is and naughty too. It was one of those nights when he decides to sit at out doorstep (basically he does that when he is hungry). It was night time and high ISO didn’t work well,hence I used flash (camera in-built flash) to capture his insanely glory eyes, which I guess he didn’t like much. 😀 Ground is the best place to click images from eye level and this was the closest My zoom went from a distance. I love how adorable he looked in here.

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Look at that glow. Rubbing against stair railing, I didn’t  miss the shot this time.  Camera settings: aperture: f/6.3 shutter speed: 1/250 (can’t go below that with flash) ISO: 100 taken at 124mm with my Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens attatched with Canon 80D.

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Since I had to use the built in flash at this place, I tried increasing the aperture a bit (which is usually the least that I prefer for my bird photography) here since background is not an issue here at all. This was the result. Colorful eyes with a bit more details. Aperture used here was f/8.0.

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EXIF: f/6.3 ss:1/250sec  ISO:100  @110mm

As he barked and gets ready to take a step closer. He seemed really hungry and won’t settle anything less than milk. He surely isn’t lactose intolerant.

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This is an unedited jpeg image straight from the camera. I wanted to click the way he is, like a real cat (tiger). I was sitting inside the door and he was waiting outside waiting for the opportunity to come in.. Settings – f/8 ,shutter  speed:1/250sec with ISO at 100.

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Exif: f/6.3  ss:1/200  ISO:125

Okay! so being rubbed himself in my dad’s legs way too much. We finally let him in. I was lying down to get this shot with my zoom when he decided to move towards me.With my eyes inside the viewfinder, I found it way too closer ,I shouted and jumped. Everybody laughed 😦 But I still love being on the floor rather than sitting. The focal length was 96mm. See, he was close 😀

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Exif:  f/6.3  ss:1/250   iso:125   @100mm

A quick close-up and a perfect cat portrait.

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EXIF: f/9.0 ss:1/50  ISO:100 @35mm  in built flash fired

While he posed for me here and there, I got this great idea of floor reflection. He was sitting where the led light sprayed directly making the floor and reflection more on the white side. So I waited for him to move around and I get the one I wanted. The below image is the result of my wait and I am satisfied with it this time.

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perfect reflection. EXIF: f/5.6  Speed:1/10sec  ISO:1000 @103mm

Also I did not fire flash for this image,instead decreased the shutter speed and turned the ISO wheel above. I made this one completely lying on the floor while he sat in front of the blue wooden door giving me a perfect view.. This made my evening. He was full by now and ready to leave. Happy he, happy us.

To know your cats better. Click here

I will see you all in my next post. Till then keep smiling and sharing love.

Much love

Riya

World photography day !! Blog anniversary

19th August- World Photography Day

Hi and welcome to My own space…

Well, of course this day is been celebrated all over the world by photographers, photography lovers and also who loves to get photographed. Hence being a beginner in photography this day means a lot to me as well. Also, on this very day, a year ago I started my blog with no prior knowledge of blogging at all. I thought I could write and showcase whatever I capture on my camera. And this makes this day a very special one as I celebrate my 1st Blogversary. As days went by I became more indulged into writing poetries and photographing birds. And blogging about them has become an integral part of my life since then.

Nature person
There are so many kinds of people on this planet. Out of hundreds of billions, I am one of those million people who loves to stay close to nature. Being in nature makes me feel alive and fills my heart with desires and reasons to live more each day. Getting closer to wildlife makes me realize that there is so much more to life that we actually go through and understand. The green grasses, colorful wings, cheerful chirps every morning is an alarm for me that there is so much more to do. To do yoga, to cook, to paint, to play, to write and to capture each and every moment that is worth framing. You know when you will die, you will die with the memories and not with the money you made. At least I will. Making bird photographs began with my first ever DSLR Canon 1300D which was my 27th birthday gift from my husband and the journey just began. Getting longer lenses just to be a little close to them makes me really happy from inside. Their beautiful feathers, speaking colors, those eyes, those details , beaks, tails, wings, legs, I can’t never get enough of them. Getting as much closer as possible is my only wish when I am in the wild (but ofcourse, I never get too close to disturb them). This never ending want of knowing more and more about them makes me read books and blogs. (I am not of a reader person, more of a writer person, But to be a writer, you need to learn to read first). And this leads to my 2nd love.i.e. Writing.

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My world of wings.

Click here for My page on my first love- photography ~   Through my lenses

Poet person
I won’t and will never call myself a writer unless I am ONE. But whenever I feel low, I write. Whenever I feel happy, I write. Whenever I feel love , I write. Love is a very important part in my life. I can’t live if I am not allowed to love. Falling in love again and again is my genre of interest. Love for the beautiful people in life, love for your oldest friend, love for your first crush, love for your grand parents, love for the up growing kids, love for cooking, love for writing, love for nature, love for photography, love for music, love for that faded love of yours, love for those cherished memories, love for school days and love for the days yet to come. Love is everywhere around us and we just need to find them. And whenever I fall in love again with any of these or anything new, I write. I write my heart out untill it rhymes with my beats. My poetries are my flow of heart beats in rhythm.. just like a piano tune..a soulful music. I wish to get better on it with all your love and support each and everyday..

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Click here for My poetries and more ~  Let my pen speaks

Blog person
I am so gay to realize that I started my blog on world photography day. Though it wasn’t anything I planned for, It just happened like everything else in life happens without any alarm or prior notice. Ever since I started writing posts on birding, photography, poetries and what not, I feel very light and connected to so many people at the same time. I cant get to each and everyone and let them know what am I going through but that is exactly what my blogs can. I love to talk and hence I am an avid writer of my feelings. But blogging about nature and photographing them is more of a passion inside. All my
thanks will never be enough for the one who encourages me the most in my life to do what I am made for. Obviously I was not born to be a computer geeko or a note counting machine. Right? I was born to be independent and that is what I feel here with you all. I have the freedom to speak and write and to fly high.

Riya’s own Space  ~ Well my space it is. 

Conclusion.
What will ‘Just earning money and getting your materialistic demands fulfilled’ get you in the end? What matters is what do you want to die with. I want to die with so much of knowledge and love from people and animals around. I want to work for nature conservation if I get a chance. I want to see my husband getting on that stage and perform in front of a crowd of thousands. I want this for him because he is one of those very few people who dared to dream in this world. I want to make my parents proud on me and get a pat on my shoulder for keeping their heads high. I want to love and be loved. And at the end , I just want to live till the end. Because you know, happiness is just a dilusion. So live it as much as you can.

Last, but not at all least, I wish you all a very Happy World Photography Day !

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Much love

Riya

Oriental Magpie robin (Copsychus saularis)

So this is a post on one of my favorite sections where I collect and gain knowledge about the beautiful creations surrounding us. Yes, as always I am talking about my favorite creatures on this planet. ‘BIRD’ and this is that part where I share everything possible “about the bird” from Internet ,books, friends or personal experiences. I took really long time to create a post on Oriental Magpie Robin which is happen to be the most common bird that I see on a regular basis, like everyday (well of course, besides crow :P) So why late? Just to get the best possible shot possible. But you know what, a photographer is never satisfied with his/her work, there is always something more that we want to get. The better lighting, the better perch, the glory eye focus, the magnificent flying shot, shots with prey etc etc. There is no end to it. No matter how close I get to them, its just not enough for me. I want to see them all day from a close encounter. Well, thats just not a possibly practical thing to do. We have to mind our own businesses as they do mind theirs. So here is the detailed “about the bird” post on our very own Oriental Magpie Robin.

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In the bed of bokeh.. EXIF: f/5.6  ss:1/1000  iso:1250  @313mm

ORIENTAL MAGPIE ROBIN

Oriental magpie Robin is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but now considered an Old World flycatcher.

Scientific name: Copsychus saularis

Also known as doyel (in bengali and other regionals languages in India)

Appearance:

They are distinctive black and white birds with a long tail that is held upright as they forage on the ground or perch conspicuously. They are about 17-20 centimetres (7.5 in) in length, including the long tail. The male has glossy black upperparts, head and throat apart from a white shoulder patch. The underparts and the sides of the long tail are white. Bill is black. Eyes are dark. Legs and feet are blackish.  Females are greyish black instead of glossy black  and greyish white instead of white. Young birds have scaly brown upperparts and head.

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Habitat:

The Oriental Magpie Robin is found in open woodland, cultivated areas often close to human habitations. They prefer open areas such as mangroves, gardens, cultivated areas. They are not found in the deep forest.

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Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/800sec  iso:1000  @562mm

Behaviour:

In the non-breeding season it is shy and quiet, skulking about in undergrowth. The Oriental Magpie Robin is a common and tame bird. It is terrestrial, hopping along the ground with cocked tail.

They are often active late at dusk. They sometimes bathe in rainwater collected on the leaves of a tree.

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Pride.. Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/125sec  iso:200  @546mm

Distribution:

This magpie-robin is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Bangladesh, interior India, Sri Lanka and eastern Pakistan east to Indonesia, Thailand, south China, Malaysia, and Singapore.[3] They have been introduced to Australia.

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Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/400sec  iso:320  @600mm

Breeding and nesting:

Magpie robins breed mainly from March to July in India and January to June in south-east Asia. Males sing from high perches during courtship. The display of the male involves puffing up the feathers, raising the bill, fanning the tail and strutting .

They build their nests almost anywhere from thick shrubs, in the fork of branches of small trees, palms, hollow trees and even near human habitation, under a veranda, in a hole in the wall, in an old tin can, and in stables. They line the cavity with grass. The female is involved in most of the nest building, which happens about a week before the eggs are laid. 4-5 eggs are laid at intervals of 24 hours and these are oval and usually pale blue green with brownish speckles that match the color of hay. The eggs are incubated by the female (sometimes males too) for 8 to 15 days.

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Colors in bg… Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/250sec  iso:640  @600mm

Diet:

The diet of magpie robins includes mainly insects and other invertebrates. Although mainly insectivorous (mainly caught insects on ground), they are known to occasionally take flower nectar, geckos, leeches, centipedes and even fish.

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Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/1250sec  iso:1250  @600mm

Voice: 

Oriental magpie robins are mostly known for their sweetest songs.The Oriental Magpie Robins have a delightful varied song and are said to be able to imitate the calls of other birds while singing.

Males sing from high perches during courtship. Females may sing briefly in the presence of a male.Apart from their song, they use a range of calls including territorial calls, emergence and roosting calls, threat calls, submissive calls, begging calls and distress calls. The typical mobbing calls is a harsh hissing krshhh.

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Call……Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/800sec  iso:800  @600mm

Interesting fact: 

  1. Oriental Magpie robin is the national bird of Bangladesh.
  2. While searching on youtube for more information and videos on the species, what I happen to see is the caged videos of magpie robin singing. Magpie robins were widely kept as cagebirds for their singing abilities and for fighting in India in the past. It makes me feel the worst to see the beautiful avians inside a tiny cage in my own country.They continue to be in the pet trade in parts of Southeast Asia.
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Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/125sec  iso:200  @600mm

Concern:

This species is considered as one of “little concern” globally but in some areas the species is on the decline. This species has a few avian predators too.

I will keep on updating more as I gain ore knowledge. You know, gaining knowledge is very much more important tan just collecting information. Untill next time, keep birding and loving nature. I will see you all in my next blog.

Much love

Riya.

Indian Flag ~Happy 72nd Independence day

Hello Everyone. It is a national holiday in India today and the reason is well known to everyone. Today is the most important day in Indian history. Today is the day ,71 years ago in 1947, Indians got Independence from British rule. Since then, we Indians have been celebrating this day together every year on 15th August by hoisting Tricolor . Today here, I have tried to sum-up everything about Indian Flag. Lets begin..

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Tricolor created by me with Indian food items.

Evolution of Tri-color

It has 6 steps till we reach out to Tri-color as our National flag.

  1. Indian-flag First National flag of India hoisted in the Parsee Bagan Square in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on 7th August 1906. The flag was comprised of three horizontal strips of red, yellow and green (with lotus flowers ,sun and moon symbols).
  2. images.jpg Second National flag was hoisted by Madame Bhikaji Cama and her band of exiled revolutionaries in 1907 in Paris. This flag was similar to the first one but with one exception. It had seven stars denoting Saptarishi. This flag was also exhibited as Berlin committee flag.
  3. download.jpgThird National flag was hoisted by Dr. Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak when our political struggle had taken a definite turn during Home Rule Movement in 1917. This flag had five red and four green horizontal strips with seven stars of Saptarishi, with white crescent and a Union Jack.
  4. main-qimg-899397cd1f14a0a69f15ade8d70b3e97-c.jpg Forth Flag was made by an Andhra youth and presented before Mahatma Gandhi during the session of the All India Congress Committee in 1921 at Bezwada (now Vijayawada). The flag represented two major communities i.e., Hindus and Muslims as red and green. Gandhiji suggested an addition of a white strip to represent rest of the communities of India and a spinning wheel to symbolise progress of the nation.
  5. 58b4a11778dbb-e1534336818268.jpg The year 1931 was a landmark in the history of the flag. A resolution was passed adopting a tricolor flag as our national flag.This was similar to the present tricolour with saffron, white and green stripes with Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel at the centre. The flag bore no communal significance. This flag was also the battle ensign of the Indian National Army.
  6. 1200px-Flag_of_India.svg On July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted it as Free India National Flag. After the advent of Independence, the colours and their significance remained the same. Only the Dharma Charkha of Emperor Asoka was adopted in place of the spinning wheel as the emblem on the flag. Thus, the tricolour flag of the Congress Party eventually became the tricolour flag of Independent India.

Colors of the flag:

  • The top band is of Saffron color, indicating the strength and courage of the country.
  • The white middle band indicates peace and truth with Dharma Chakra.
  • The last band is green in color shows the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land.
  • The chakra is of navy blue colour

The Chakra:

The Dharma Chakra depicted the “wheel of the law” in the Sarnath Lion Capital made by the 3rd-century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. The chakra intends to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation. It is known to 24 spokes in the wheel (the chakra).

Dimension of the tricolor:

  • There are nine standard sizes of the flag are specified by law. (150 *100 mm and 6300*4200 mm being the smallest and largest)
  • The Indian national flag should always be in a proportion of 2:3 (breath:length).
  • All the three bands should be of equal width.
  • The diameter of the chakra approximates to the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes.
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Musoor dal for saffron, rice for white,green chilies for green and cloves for chakra.

Material of the flag:

By law, the flag is to be made of khadi, a special type of hand-spun cloth or silk, made popular by Mahatma Gandhi. Khadi or hand-spun cloth is the only material allowed to be used for the flag, and flying a flag made of any other material is punishable by law with imprisonment up to three years, besides a fine. Raw materials for khadi are restricted to cotton, silk and wool.

Currently, Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha (KKGSS) based in Hubli,Karnataka is the only licensed flag production and supply unit in India. All the flags that are to be hoisted in any official Ceremony are being made by KKGSS as per the BIS( Bureau of Indian Standards). They make flags worth Rs. 1 Crore every year in all the nine dimensions.

Flag Code of India 2002::

On 26th January 2002, the Indian flag code was modified and after several years of independence, the citizens of India were finally allowed to hoist the Indian flag over their homes, offices and factories on any day and not just National days as was the case earlier. Now Indians can proudly display the national flag any where and any time, as long as the provisions of the Flag Code are strictly followed to avoid any disrespect to the tricolour.

There are some Do’s and Don’ts by the flag code 2002.

The Do’s:

  • The National Flag may be hoisted in educational institutions (schools, colleges, sports camps, scout camps, etc.) to inspire respect for the Flag. An oath of allegiance has been included in the flag hoisting in schools.
  • A member of public, a private organization or an educational institution may hoist/display the National Flag on all days and occasions, ceremonial or otherwise consistent with the dignity and honour of the National Flag.
  • Section 2 of the new code accepts the right of all private citizens to fly the flag on their premises.

The Don’ts:

  • The flag cannot be used for communal gains, drapery, or clothes. As far as possible, it should be flown from sunrise to sunset, irrespective of the weather.
  • The flag cannot be intentionally allowed to touch the ground or the floor or trail in water. It cannot be draped over the hood, top, and sides or back of vehicles, trains, boats or aircraft.
  • No other flag or bunting can be placed higher than the flag. Also, no object, including flowers or garlands or emblems can be placed on or above the flag. The tricolour cannot be used as a festoon, rosette or bunting.

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Protocols for Displaying the Indian National Flag:

The Flag Code India (2002), Prevention of Improper Use of Emblems and Names Act (1950), and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act (1971) govern the display, representation and handling of the Indian National Flag. The Do’s and Don’ts of handling the Indian National Flag are as follows:

1. The national flag should be displayed upright with the Saffron strip facing the top in horizontal representations and left in the vertical representations. The flag should never be displayed upside down.

2. The Flag should be displayed on the right as this is the position of authority when indoor.

3. When carried in a procession the National Flag should be borne by marching right or otherwise by a lone marcher in the center.

4. The flag cannot be used as drapery or clothing.

5. The flag should be hoisted down prior to sunset and erected again after sunrise.

6. The flag pole for National Flag should be placed at the highest point of the building.

7. Private institutions may display the national flag on all days and occasions, ceremonial or otherwise, consistent with the dignity and honor of the National Flag.

8. Post amendment of the Flag Code in 2002, Individual citizens may also hoist/display the Indian National Flag in their premises

9. The flag may be flown half-mast as a sign of mourning the decision of which lies with the President of India.

10. The National Flag of India must be displayed on Republic Day (January 26), Independence Day(August 15), Gandhi Jayanti (October 2), State formation Anniversaries and National Week.

11. On the occasion of armed forces personnel funerals the National flag should be draped over the coffin, with the saffron towards the head. However, the National Flag should never be lowered into the grave or burnt in the pyre.

12. Soiled National Flag may be disposed as a whole in private preserving the dignity of the same and should not be done disrespectfully.

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Images made by me with canon 80D + canon 18-135mm lens

Significance of the National Flag

The National Flag of India represents the concept of secularism that the country was built upon. The austerity of the rectangular tricolor underlines the rich spiritual and philosophical history of India. The basis of the flag is the Swaraj Flag, adopted by the Indian National Congress during the Indian Freedom Struggle movement under Gandhi and is reminiscent of the same.

 

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY 2018

Until next time.

Much love,

Riya

 

Tuesday talks ~ my veg platters :P

I am a born foody and I can eat anything and everything at any time 😀  Though I prefer non-veg at any day as I was born in a bengali family and everyone knows bengalis can’t live without fish. I also grew up having fish and chicken atleast twice or thrice a week till I really grew up as an adult. Then I went to another city to study college without any knowledge of cooking at all. Like at all. I only knew how to make tea and maggi until I reached 21. My roommate used to cook chicken and I used to slurp it all till the last bite 😀 Then suddenly reality hit me. College was finished and we get to settle our lives on our own. By the time I joined my job, I was okay with this cooking thing. Yeah, I can cook and feed myself and my the-then boyfriend (now husband) only. I had no proper method of cooking and never knew how anyone else would react on it. It was back in 2012-2013. Coming back to present with those memories, I am now a married working woman who often loves to cook. I have tried my hands on punjabi, south-Indian, chinese, italian dishes in weekends, but my desire ends where my heart is. Bengali food. I recently discovered that the bengali everyday recipes are the most easiest and full filling dishes, atleast for me. And talking about bengali lunch/dinner, we cant really stop to 1 or 2 side dishes. We have a lot of them. And when there are some special guests at home, the number of fries and dishes can’t just end. So this thing of making more than one side dish has grown in me from a last few months. I guess I am getting much closer to my culture staying much-much away from it. After all its about “maa-ke-hath-ka-khana” (mother’s hand cooked food) that I try to inculcate (to taste) every time I cook on weekends. On week days we usually sum up with some roti-bhaji, rajma chawal, sambhar chawal, pulao , fried rice or max upto egg curry as I am also a human whose day starts at morning 6am and who gets really tired after a long day at office. So these are my recent platters (mostly bengali) that I often cook on weekends when we are eating veg.

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  1. Anti-clockwise from bottom-  Rice , musoor dal, karela bhaja (bittergourd fry) [my husband’s favorite], Potato- beans masala dry, Jhinge-alu posto (khas-khas with potato and ridge gourd) with some cucumber and onion salad. Bengalis and posto are made for each other. A bengali thali is always incomplete without it.

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2. Anti-clockwise-  Fresh Chapatis with onion-besan dry fry (new and easy recipe for me which turned out amazing), brinjal fry, alu-jeera (boiled potato toasted in jeera and vegetable oil) with some most important onion chunks for dinner.

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3. For a change, little different from usual bangali khabar. Paneer curry and alu-matar ki sabji with rice and some curd for a summer dinner.

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4. This is not something temping and only bengalis can relate to. I used to have this kind of meal when I had my board exams. Mom used to give me some boiled rice with ghee and mashed poatato with fried fish .I loved it. Its so healthy with no spices at all. This platter has everything boiled in it. Starting from bottom anti-clockwise- bata posto (blended kas-khas), alu bhate (mashed boiled potato with fried onion,tomato and chilli), bandakopir bhate (a bangladeshi cabbage dish), mashed boiled eggs with salt and onion, daal without tarka/chounk with some rice and essentials onion and green chilli.

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5. A perfect meal for a rainy day. Daal-khichdi with omlet, achar’s (mango & chilli) and salad. Well some round shaped potato fries are missing here without which a khichdi platter just can’t be completed and I so love having them with khichdi.

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6. Anticlockwise from bottom-  Rice, half omlet (egg pouch), mix veg fry (potato, capsicum and carrot used here), alu-dantar chochori ( bengali style cooked potato and drumstick in mustard seed) with again some musoor daal. We often have toor dal but when it comes to cooking varities , I prefer musoor as it goes really well with most veggies.

Well this above image is a miserable try of food photography by me. That very day when I was cooking, I had a talk with my brother over phone and he suggested me for some food photography that can be done inside in this weather. And I took my camera and shot this 😀

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7. Rice,some daal with alu-posto (khas-khas with potato), bhindi bhaja (ladyfinger fry) , and begun baja (brinjal fry) . This particuular day was not a planned sunday. And we ended up doing a lot of house cleaning. After done with the house monica-clean / diwali- clean which took around the whole of morning, Mr. husband asked me to order food from outside which in return I quickly made this thali in around 40 mins on my 2 induction cook-tops. Yes we still don’t own a gas cylinder yet. 😀

Well, that is all for today’s food blogging. When it comes to cooking  I can do a lot in less time which I never have any idea before. Its fun to eat a lot for a person like me who never gets fat 😀

Until next time,

Much love

Riya

Oriental Garden lizard (Calotes versicolor)

Hello you beautiful people, you have seen a lot of bird watching activities in my blog. Yes I am addicted to birds and their beautiful activities which are usually very very different from humans. But, for a change today, I am going to talk about one of the most common species in our gardens usually go unseen by us as they are not considered beautiful. These reptiles can be found in most gardens in Indian subcontinent, you just need to have the eye to see their beauty, as I always say.

A few weeks ago, on one of my early morning rides, I wasn’t feeling very good after not having a very good light for photographing birds in a beautiful spot. So I left the spot with my Tamron 70-300mm (non vc ) lens to return home. But As I said I was not in a mood to enter my gloomy house in the cloudy day, I stopped by this road-side to better my mood watching kids playing cricket near a beautiful temple. Casually side siting on my vehicle, my eyes caught this big lizard showing off its colourful throat at times. And this was it. I brought out my already set cam from the pouch and went into the bushes. And I will tell you how it felt afterwards. Before that, have a look at all the angles I could capture and lets gain some knowledge about the Oriental garden Lizard from India.

 Oriental Garden Lizard

Also known as changeable lizard or eastern garden lizard.

Scientific name: Calotes versicolor

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Curiosity.  EXIF: f/4.5  ss:1/2000  iso:500 @180mm

Appearance:  It measures over 10 cm (3.9 in) in length snout-to-vent. Total length including the tail is up to 37 cm (14.5 in). Skin is rough and spiny. Head is large. Adults have a crest that rises up from behind the eyes to the back. (that makes this one an adult) Small spines can be seen just above the external ear. Dark lines radiate out from the eye. They have long legs and long toes. Tail is very slender and more than twice as long as the body. Underbelly is white. Like other reptiles, they shed their skins. Like chameleons, Oriental Garden Lizards can move each of their eyes in different directions.

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Full display.  EXIF: f/5.0  ss:1/1600    iso:500   @180mm

Habitat: Naturally found in open forest and shrub-land, but has adapted tremendously well to urban environments and can be found in agricultural areas, parks, empty lots, gardens, and even decorative shrubs in front of businesses.The native range of the species includes SE Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Western Malaysia, Maldives, Vietnam, Pulo Condore Island, South China, Indonesia, Mauritius. It has been introduced to Oman, Singapore, and United States. The lizards were introduced to Singapore from Malaysia and Thailand in the 1980s. The Oriental Garden Lizard is relatively common and found in a wide range of habitats. They appear to adapt well to humans and are thus not endangered. They are very well found in house gardens/ backyards and hence the name.

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EXIF: f/5.6  ss:1/1250  iso:640  @192mm

Diet: Garden skinks feed on larger invertebrates, including crickets, moths, slaters, earthworms, flies, grubs and caterpillars, grasshoppers, cockroaches, earwigs, slugs, dandelions, small spiders, ladybeetles, ants and many other small insects, which make them a very helpful animal around the garden. Although they have teeth, these are designed for gripping prey and not tearing it up. So prey is swallowed whole, after it is stunned by shaking it about.

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EXIF:  f/5.6  ss:1/1250  iso:400  @300mm

Breeding: During the breeding season, the male’s head and shoulders turns bright orange to crimson and his throat black. Males also turn red-headed after a successful battle with rivals.Males become highly territorial during breeding season. They discourage intruding males by brightening their red heads and doing “push-ups”. Each tries to attract a female by inflating his throat and drawing attention to his handsomely colored head.

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Showing off colored throat

During breeding season, the male Oriental Garden Lizard will approach the female while extending its “gular” (throat sac), raise the front of its body as high as possible while nodding its head, and open and close its mouth repeatedly. Males may also demonstrate this aggressive behavior when approached by people during the breeding season.

About 10—20 eggs are laid, buried in moist soil. The eggs are long, spindle-shaped and covered with a leathery skin. They hatch in about 6–7 weeks. They are able to breed at about 1 year old.

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Exif: f/5  ss:1/2000   iso:400  @180mm

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect populations. Will occasionally eat small lizards, baby rodents, or seeds. Provides food for snakes and birds.

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Close up.  EXIF: f/5.6   ss:1/1600   iso:640  @176mm

Fun fact:  1)The Oriental Garden Lizard is also known as the “Changeable Lizard”, due to its wide variation in coloration and ability to change colors significantly during the breeding season.

2) Both males and females have a crest from the head to nearly the tail, hence their other common name “Crested Tree Lizard”.

3) The Oriental Garden Lizard is referred to as the “Bloodsucker” in many areas.  Obviously, the Oriental Garden Lizard is an insect-eater and does not suck blood from anything.

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Crested tree lizard. 

All the images has been made by me using my canon 80D and Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6 LD Di macro lens (non-vc) at macro mode. I wish to get more and better opportunities in future. Till then, keep loving wildlife and nature.

Much love,

Riya

Tuesday talks ~ The departure

Earlier as I said, and I will say it again as its the fact, the truth that life withstand us every time. Life is a series of chronological events that happen for a reason. People come, you become friends, get comfortable with and then they leave. It’s not always in our hands to control them no matter how much we want to. I work in a nationalized bank in India and my service of 5 years has taught me this. To get stronger day by day, to not get attached to anyone soon enough, to have just professional relations because you know, they have to leave .Today or a few years later. But they have to. I was not much a socio-famous person before I joined my workplace. I didn’t know too many people. But I do now, I knowand have met a lot of people, or rather I should say bankers. People who I just know and people who I have been along with. When in Kolkata, I had some really close-to-heart people in my life. To name a few, a motherly senior maa’m at branch, A best friend like gossip and foody branch buddy, A collegues’s little daughter named Arikta, One didi (elder sister) from different branch who I met just a few times, Another didi who used to be my landlord for 2 years and her 7 yr old son who I still miss a lot. Leaving every one of them behind I shifted to a new city with my husband after marriage. New people,collegues, neighbor etc, with whom I was mentally prepared for not having such attachment. But well, I am me, and I can’t just be practical and do my job. In short I am an emotional fool who cries for no reason (well, there is always a reason behind, always). But life and banking goes on. It doesn’t wait for you to loosen up the knot you tied. I am not loosing people in my life, in the process I am only gaining them with experience. But why is it so important ? Why can’t time just wait with us as long as I want it too.

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The departure

Some people really clicks at the moment you meet them. It happened with one of my new office-mates. But they as I said, everything is just temporary. They leave and you have to move on. The last week 30th july to 4th of Aug 2018, I named the week as ‘the departure’. I couldn’t stop myself from writing this at the end. The week started with a retirement of the oldest member in our bank.Well that went off well.The very day I returned home to find out one of my goldies (gold fish) died. All 5 of them were keeping really good for so many months in my tank. Another day a very beautiful lifer -emerald dove (a bird I have never seen before with my eyes) hit an electric pole and fell down in front of me. I was there, I fed him water but he couldn’t survive for more than a few seconds. It died in my palm. Its the first time that someone died on my hand. And I can’t really explain how bad it felt. I came home with an already heavy heart because a
very close friend had to leave too by this weekend for another state. I worked with him for 2 years and it was so much fun.And with that, I ended up my weekend loosing another friend with whom I have talked like crazy. To top of that, one more senior had to be relieved too the very same day who understood my photography and passion for birds and encouraged.

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Emerald dove that I will remember forever.

Sometimes, it feels like who-ever is close to you is so far. Thousands of kilometers away from you but they will say, they care. But does that really matter? You can’t have them when you need and they can’t have you when they need. Well that’s life I guess. Our times are different from what our parents had. They used to stay at the same place for years and make friends and memories, a lot of them to cherish later. I have them too. The Memories. But I guess, that’s not just enough for me. I feel bad, and I will always feel bad no matter how strong life makes me.

Well CHANGE is the only constant thing in life and no matter what, things will keep on changing and life will keep on moving. Well that’s life’s job and my job is to get emotional and sob alone. I guess that’s the reason we get married so to have someone with you forever to laugh, to cry and to live until life takes it all…

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From my craft’s corner

Much love
Riya

An evening with Asian openbill

It was an average monsoon evening,I was returning from my work via Mapusa market with my husband who picked me up from the bus stand. We took the route with less crowd to get to the main road after finishing vegetable shopping. [Info: Mapusa market is the biggest vegetable and fish market in North Goa and hence always crowded]. While crossing this beautiful lane divided by paddy fields, I spotted some storks feasting in the field under an almost clear sky. I first mistook them as Wooly necked stork with naked eyes and couldn’t stop myself from taking a few clicks from my mobile which of course didn’t turn out AT-ALL beautiful and the big storks looked like munias in the landscape. I some-how convinced my husband to come back the very same evening with the camera to get some nice shots. It was already cloudy when we were about to leave with the gears from home. Well, you in Goa its like sun and clouds are having love affair, they can’t stay away from each-other for long. 😉 We took the precautions on how to protect the camera and us as we don’t own a car yet. Anyways, we reached the field in 5 minutes only to find them gone. It was the only fear I had ,else-wise I would have come early morning the next day. I looked everywhere disappointingly when Mr.husband called out ” Hey, they are there”. They flew and changed the field on the other side of the road. Well, my happy eyes went big as I got my cam ready to shoot. Apperture, Iso, metering were all set and I was looking for a place to sit and track them, as they were kind a hiding behind the grasses in search of food in the mud. I found two of them first and then two more in the same field. They were 4 of them who made my evening ,a very beautiful one.

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Smooth flight.   EXIF:   f/6.3  SS:1250   ISO:2000  @600mm

Asian open bill stork

Asian open bill or Asian open billed stork is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. 

Scientific name : Anastomus oscitans

Why openbill? The name openbill is derived from the distinctive gap formed between the recurved lower and arched upper mandible of the beak in adult birds. The gap can be easily seen with a closer look. Their upper and lower beak touches each other at just the tip. Young birds do not have this gap. The cutting edges of the mandible have a fine brush like structure that is thought to give them better grip on the shells of snails (their main diet).

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Asian open bill.    EXIF: f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:2500  @600mm

Appearance: The body is greyish in non-breeding season which turns white in breeding season with glossy black wings and tail. They have short pink legs which turn reddish prior to breeding. The mantle is black and the bill is horn-grey. Juveniles are brownish grey and have brownish mantle.

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Take off.    exif:  f/6.3   SS:1/1250  ISO:2000   @600mm  .cropped image.

The Asian Openbill Stork is a broad-winged soaring bird, which relies on moving between thermals of hot air for sustained flight.

It is one of the smallest storks with their height standing at 68cm (81cm long) and wingspan of 149cm. Like all other storks, they fly with their neck outstretched. they are usually found in flocks but sometimes you may spot a single one usually in search of prey.

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About to land.   EXIF:  f/6.3   SS:1/640    ISO:1250   @403mm

Habitat: Their usual wetland would be inland wetlands. On agricultural landscapes, openbills forage in crop fields, irrigation canals, and in seasonal marshes. They may move widely in response to habitat conditions. They are named Asian as they are widespread and common in India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand.

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Close up.    EXIF:  f/6.3   SS:1/320   ISO:1000   @600mm

Breeding and nesting: They breed near inland wetlands and build stick nest in trees, typically laying 2-6 eggs. They nest in colonies, with numerous nests in the same tree, up to 40 and more. Long courtship displays occur at the beginning of breeding season.

Incubation lasts about 27 to 30 days, and young fledge at 35 to 36 days after hatching.
Young birds stand and wait for adults. Parents approach the nest cautiously, and regurgitate the food.

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Habitat.    EXIF:   f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:2500  @600mm

Fun fact: Adults shade their young in the nest, to protect them from sun. One of the parents stands in the nest with semi-open wings above the chicks.

Voice: Asian Open bills are very noisy while flying in flocks. Call is a mournful “hoo-hoo”.

Diet: Asian Openbill feeds mainly on molluscs, and particularly freshwater snails living in rice-fields and swamps. Prey is located by touch and sight. The gap in the bill allows good grasp of the snail’s shell. Asian Openbill walks slowly in shallow water, searching for prey. It extracts snail from the shell, with pointed lower mandible. They also consume frogs, crabs and large insects, and other small aquatic animals.

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Prey.    EXIF:  f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:2000  @403mm

Flight: As said earlier they use warm air streams for rising in the air, and flies high in the sky. Then, it glides to destination. Landing is spectacular. Asian Openbill drops from the air with dangling legs, and lands just as a parachute.

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In th flight.    EXIF: f/6.3  SS:1/1250   ISO:2000 @600mm

Asian open bills are one of the social birds and hence not so hard to get photographs. They fly too often and lands into the same wetland as mentioned above, giving beautiful opportunities to click.

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The flight.     EXIF:  f/6.3    SS:1/1250  ISO:2000  @600mm

I had an amazing time spent with these beautiful large wings and in the process gained some knowledge. I hope you have liked my article on Asian Open bill Stork.

My other blogs from About the bird series :

Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)

Red Whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus)

White throated kingfisher (Halcyon pileata)

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Take off.    EXIF: f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:2000   @600mm handheld

Untill next time, Keep birding and keep spreading love 🙂

Much love,

Riya

 

 

Parra – A birding hour

Parra, as the name must be known to most of the Indians by now who watch bollywood movies as this beautiful location has been shown in the movie Dear Zindagi featuring Shahrukh Khan and Alia Bhatt. And also the movie poster featured beautiful parra. Parra is indeed a beautiful location to shoot and make videos. I have visited this parra panchayat area quite a few times in my 2 years stay in Goa but it only became my favorite when I saw the mesmerising sunrise there one lovely morning. Scooty ride is a must in that road while in a Goa stay. I don’t know why but I feel attached to this place. And now that I know its a wonderful place for birding as well, I have made it a special space in my heart. I couldn’t make it to the place at dawn again but whenever I visit, it reminds me of the glowing sun peaking out from the bushes while I sat on my scooty, my back facing the beautiful tiny, smooth road with long palm trees on both the sides [worth reason for its popularity]. It looks amazing on the screen but you have to be there to feel the essence of nature so close to you.

Talking of videos, we recently shot a video in this particular location for Ankit’s new original tune called “LIFE” which is now live on youtube. This music takes me to some unheard realizations of life,that Life is a mere journey in circles. You walk around in search of answers which are never found anywhere. But what you gotta do is keep moving. Moving on, moving up or moving away  but just keep moving. That is all LIFE is about. Isn’t it? I have tried to show it in the end of the video. Watch it in full HD and tell me what you liked more, the music or the location. Do come back in 3 minutes (plus buffering time :P) Here it is

Now enough about Life, lets get back to what I have come here for. Bird photographing. Well after shooting the video there, we went twice to have some getaway time with birds twice in this monsoon. We literally have to be mentally prepared for running away any moment as rain showers in Goa are so unpredictable. I leave this duty to my husband all the time (he is a good weather forecast for me), I simply listens to him when he says ‘time for pack-up’. So here I will show all the birds that I have spotted at anytime in Parra in my two wonderful short visits.

Birds are usually scattered here and there. You can see more than usual numbers of White throated kingfishers and bee-eaters on wires and branches.  But I always go somewhere to see something unusual, something that I haven’t seen before. New wings,new habits. Nature is very creative with its creations. The best examples are the birds. We cant imagine how many different varieties and colorful birds are there in this whole planet. lets see, what all I got to see in Parra till now.

I will start with the majestic beauty. Indian national bird. Indian peafoul

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A habitat shot of national beauty. Exif:: f/6.3 SS: 1/1000  ISO:400  @600mm

They were three of them that we chased that day until they vanished in the big bushes.Its always a pleasure to watch the national bird in its own habitat. Often heard a saying that they along with some other large birds destroy a lot of crops in Goa, and are hated by most of the farmers. But whatever it is, it just makes my mood whenever I watch them in the green grasslands, that is too often in rainy days 🙂 Yet to capture their rain dance though.

A landing egret. [I chose here one of the many images of each species that I clicked there, else wise it would have been a very long post with too many pictures of each species. For more images of a particular bird, I will give a link to my detailed post about that bird whenever and wherever available. I will keep on posting blogs about my new bird shots]

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About to land. Exif :: f/8.0    SS-1/1000   Iso-360   handheld  @ 360mm

Post on Egret: Egret

Oriental magpie Robin -juvenile

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Close-up.   Exif :: f/6.3   SS:1/1250    ISO:1250   @600m

I selected the closeup shot here as I liked the details on the young bird’s body against the natural green  background. I will use the bokeh background shots in my upcoming blogs. so stay updated with me.

Detailed post of Oriental Magpie robin: Oriental Magpie robin (Copsychus saularis)

A commoner White throated kingfisher

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Close up. EXIF:: f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:800 @600mm

This is a close up image of white throated kingfisher I made,that took a perch on a high cemented post against a very dull sky. Check out full detailed post of White throated kingfisher here.

My favorite image from Parra session ,1st day, is of a very common water bird. Indian pond heron.

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Spreading the wings. EXIF:: f/6.3 SS:1/1600  ISO:640  @600mm

I loved how it showed its big wings with white underparts. Detailed post on Indian pond heron here.

A very fluffy green bee eater/ or may be Indian version of little bee eater.

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Look at me.  Exif:: f/6.3  SS: 1/800 ISO:1000 @600MM

Bee eaters usually perch on high wires and have been found hungry catching bees most of the time. This one for a change was having its own time alone with no intention to hunt. Have a look at a juvenile below.

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Juvenile green bee eater. EXIF::  f/6.3   SS:1/1250   ISO:800  @600MM

Here is one Red wattled lapwing image for you all.

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Red wattled lapwing. EXIF:: f/6.3   SS:1/1250   ISO:500 @600mm

A habitat shot of Red wattled lapwing. Rule of thirds works so well in habitat shots when your subject is in tact focus.

Lapwings are ground birds that cannot perch on a tree or wire, hence always a ground level image unless its flying which makes a beautiful composition because of its color against the lush green grasslands.


Now lets have a look at the small passerine birds that often went unseen by most of the people. But birders go hunt for their one sight. The little munias, weavers and finches are delight to watch. They are almost always together in quite a few number creating a chui-chui-chui sounds 🙂

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House sparrow with nesting material. EXIF:: f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:400 @600MM

House sparrows were too common when I was a child and was the only bird that was seen everyday in a big numbers except crows. North Indian people often consider sparrows when they use the word ‘chidiya‘ (hindi word for BIRD actually). So much known bird, but only decreasing in number day by day due to lack of habitat. They are hardly now seen in urban areas and hence a delight for  photographer to take some good shots before they go risk in the extinction meter. (Wishfully they don’t).

Scaly beasted munia

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Scaly breasted munias feasting.

A large number of scaly breasted munias can be seen in Parra feasting at the ground with a few white rumped munias and baya weavers. I wish I could go ground level to get their better shot. But I had to do my job from the road while they enjoyed on the muddy field.

White rumped munia. Chose the close up one for better details.

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White rumped munia. EXIF::  f/6.3  SS: 1/1000  ISO:800  600MM

A bunch of them visited my house one rainy day. wait for my upcoming balcony birding posts.

One of my favorite weavers, BAYA WEAVER.

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Ms. Baya weaver .EXIF: f/6.3   SS:1/800sec   ISO:400 , spot metering  , no flash, hand held @600mm

I absolutely love how this close up image turned out and I thank the individual for perching close enough for a few seconds. Sadly I haven’t came across any baya weaver nest by now and I am eagerly waiting for that, and once I get that I won’t wait for a second to share with you all as they are known as the most intelligent birds with architectural qualities for their immensely brilliant nests they make.

An ashy prinia.

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Ashy prinia. EXIF::  f6.3  SS:1/1250sec  ISO=250  handheld @600mm

Again used rule of thirds to create this image of Ashy prinia which I often see these days from my balcony as well as they seem comfortable with me now. Knowing about new birds is always so fascinating but knowing new facts about the birds that were always around you is even more fascinating.

Learning and gaining knowledge has no end. So for me,its everyday that I learn something new. I am ending up my parra birding session with this beautiful shot of a common butterfly.

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Beautiful butterfly . EXIF::  f/6.3  SS:1/1250   ISO:640  @267mm  😛

Hope you all have enjoyed as I always do while creating up my post. And if you have any queries or you visit this place, don’t forget to leave a comment for me 🙂

Some more images in my next post.:)

Until next time,

Much love,

Riya